Picture Perfect

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) recently published in August 2014 the report Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada. A fantastic infographic by Margaret Hagan was included in the report. The infographic accurately summarized dense material.

infographic CBA

I applaud the CBA for incorporating Hagan’s design. Pictures are a great way to remove barriers to comprehension. Not everyone can sift through a dense report. However, an infographic is accessible to laypeople and lawyers alike.

Pictures can often be more clear than words. In Reflections on Judging, Judge Richard Posner encourages counsel to use pictures, like a map, instead of verbal or written descriptions whenever possible. Often times images are clearer than words. And leave less room for misinterpretation.

During an art class last year, it struck me just how dependent lawyers are on words. We rarely see images used to explain concepts. Legal texts are filled with words and omit images. Whereas medical texts are filled with images. Legal textbooks ought to incorporate charts that explain and connect ideas. For example, the law on negligence can be explained through a chart.

By omitting images from textbooks, we train lawyers to rely solely on the written word. This is a dangerous precedent. Images improve communication and remove barriers to comprehension.

Advertisements